This is probably a bit of a controversial stance, and doesn’t apply to everything in every situation, but this is why for a lot of people selling stuff is a waste of time and money. This doesn’t apply to big ticket items or things that have actual value, nor am I taking an adverse stance against buying and selling used items. In fact, I’m an avid thrifter and upycyler!
Here’s why selling stuff is a waste of time and money (sometimes):
First of all, think about economic costs. Economic cost is what you give up in order to get something else and looks at unseen costs and profits rather than just cash flow. So if it takes you 3 hours to sell $60 worth of stuff that’s $20 per hour, but you can make $30 per hour freelancing extra, you’ve taken an economic loss of $30 even though there’s $60 in your pocket. Make sense?
This is the kind of stuff selling I’m advocating against.
Full disclosure: Up until very recently I was one of those people who used to sell things. I will, when it doesn’t take long, still do it from time to time in the future. Sometimes selling things is worth it and sometimes it just takes a few seconds to make a post and have someone pick up the item. No biggie. Sometimes it takes a lot longer.
Yes, selling stuff is a waste of time
Recently we were cleaning the basement and I was saying that there were many items that I could tag for our local multiple clothing sale (hurray for having twins). Last time it took us hours for only a couple hundred dollars worth of profit so Josh quickly put a stop to that thinking. He said to me, “your time would be better spent working a few more hours.” It really sunk in.
When is selling stuff a bad idea?
- When the profit of doing something else is higher than the profit from selling stuff.
- If you will have to take up a lot of your leisure time to sell the stuff for very little benefit to you.
- You don’t have time to do it.
- The stuff needs to be gone right away and don’t need the money that bad.
Selling stuff isn’t all bad
It’s not always a bad thing to sell stuff around the house. When my ex husband lost his job we went around selling junk for a total of about $600. Our plan was to move into a smaller home, so some of it wasn’t junk, and that plan didn’t turn out. We did have some seller’s remorse after that, so it’s important to take that into consideration. No hoarding though! At the time, there was no freelance work available and no possibility for a second job so this was the only way we had to earn extra money.
When is selling stuff a good idea?
- When it’s the highest profit you can earn for your time.
- if you don’t have another way to earn income.
- It doesn’t take very much time or effort.
- You just want to.
A final note
The amount you spent on the product is a sunk cost. That money is gone, you spent it. Don’t think of selling a good as a way to recover some money spent, but instead as a way to earn new money. This is also a good place to say that sometimes it’s just fun to sell stuff. If you enjoy it, garage sales or an afternoon flea market booth can be a fun way to spend your time. If you enjoy selling your stuff, then do it!